Has Bush gone over the edge?
Has Bush gone over the edge?
September 5, 2006 06:06 AM
An increasing number of Republicans, ranging from former conservative Congressman Joe Scarborough to former President George H.W. Bush, worry that President George W. Bush's tenuous hold on reality is slipping away and the leader of the free world may be sliding into a full-fledged mental breakdown.
Scarborough sounded the warning recently when he devoted an episode of his MSNBC talk show to the topic "Is Bush an Idiot?" Other published reports say Bush's own father is worried about his son's mental state. Psychiatrists who have observed Bush during his presidency share this concern.
Bush family insiders say the former President's concern over his son's mental state was a primary reason why the President made a rare appearance at the family home in Connecticut during August. Bush rarely visits his father. In fact, NBC news anchor Brian Williams recently reported that former President Bill Clinton, who defeated the elder Bush after one term, visits his former rival more often.
White House aides point to the President's increasingly bizarre behavior: an inpromptu "massage" of a foreign leader at the recent G8 conference, his penchant for farting in front of new West Wing aides and his rambling, often incoherent answers to reporters' questions.
John Dean, the White House counsel who helped bring down another deranged President: Richard M. Nixon, shares the concern.
In his book, Conservatives Without Conscience, Dean calls Republican-controlled Washington a bullying, manipulative, prejudiced leadership edging the nation toward a dark era.
"We have returned to the imperial presidency (that existed in the Nixon era)," Dean says. "We have an unchecked presidency."
"Are we on the road to fascism?" he adds. "Clearly, we are not on that road yet. But it would not take much more misguided authoritarian leadership, or thoughtless following of such leaders, to find ourselves there.
"I am not sure which is more frightening," he adds, "another major terror attack or the response of authoritarian conservatives to that attack."
Dr. Justin Frank, the prominent George Washington University psychiatrist who wrote Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, says Bush has lost touch with reality:
With every passing week, President Bush marches deeper and deeper into a world of his own making. Central to Bush's world is an iron will which demands that external reality be changed to conform to his personal view of how things are.
As far as Bush is concerned, he is telling the truth; as Madeleine Albright recently said to Columbia Magazine: "the most serious problem is that George Bush now believes what he says." Like many of my hospitalized patients, Bush has created a vast, detailed but vague delusional system he feels compelled to maintain at all costs. This system helps him manage the terrifying anxiety that threatens to make his already endangered inner world more chaotic.
Psychoanalytic theory suggests that Bush's true enemy is an aspect of himself -- the overwhelming anxiety he works so hard to manage. For Bush, lying remains a central defense mechanism in managing his fears; he lies foremost to himself, altering his perception of external or internal reality to fulfill his psychic need to maintain order. His anxiety is so great that he cannot shift his thinking to account for new information --especially the fact that patriotic families of patriotic soldiers demand that he speak with them.
Taking responsibility has always been hard for George W. Bush. And taking responsibility for inflicting harm on others, a major step in the development of maturity, is a step President Bush has yet to make. Instead, he persists in lying to himself, surrounding himself with people who agree with him. And now he is not safe even inside his own closed circle.
Writes Jeffrey Steinberg in the Lyndon LaRouche scandal sheet Executive Intelligence Review:
The word is circulating in high-level Republican Party circles that former President George H.W. Bush is profoundly worried about the mental state of his son, the current President.
Ordinarily, it is easy to dismiss a report from such a source but others with credible track records are backing up parts of the EIS report.
Dr, Frank has studied Bush's actions and personality extensively and believes the President needs extensive analysis and help.
"It is not too late for President Bush to have the second half of his medical check-up: psychological testing," Dr. Frank says. "After his recent press conference in which he kept talking about finishing the job while attacking Democrats for wanting an exit strategy, Bush showed even more telltale signs of a particular kind of mental disturbance which medical professionals call thought disorder."
Writing in The Huffington Post, Dr. Frank continues:
I had always felt that his inability to respond to crisis, as seen in his response to 9/11 and Katrina and Israel's bombing of Lebanon, was because he suffered from something called affective flooding, where overwhelming anxiety paralyzes any ability to think or even function. Such a response is similar to denial but writ large. Those who observe the president at such moments - thanks to smuggled film clips and his historic April 2004 press conference when he was asked if he had made any mistakes as president - see that he starts rapid blinking movements before his eyes glaze over and become almost fixed in a blank, mindless stare. This massive disconnection from inner self and outer world is called "splitting."
But a recent press conference (August 21, 2006) showed that when he is in control he is not flooded in this way. Rather, his splitting takes the form of hatred of reality. I use the term hatred purposefully. When he was pushed by a few increasingly frustrated reporters, he behaves like the untreated alcoholic he is - summarily dismissing material reality.
When offered a chance to re-think the Iraq war he becomes obstreperous, using sarcasm to both mask and express his internal rage at being challenged. When back in control he patronizes members of what he calls the "Democrat" party, saying that they are "good people" and that he doesn't question their patriotism. In control he is a poor man's Cicero, saying what he's not going to say anyway. Reading between the lines, he calls his critics quitters.
All of this behavior is in the service of defending himself against reality - something he actively hates. At times, his attempts to ward off reality make him appear stupid. He is not. Rather, internal and external realities are too threatening for him to face. When asked whether he had been surprised or frustrated by all the bad news from Baghdad he didn't even understand the question. This is because the very act of facing such questions threatens to destroy his tenaciously held preconceptions. This he cannot risk; he employs various coping mechanisms to attack such questions in any way he can. Instead of acknowledging personal frustration he said that the war must be frustrating for the national psyche. But his hatred of reality required a more violent approach - the day after his conference he sent more of those poor marines back into a world of horror.
His ability to dismiss reality is profound - more than the simple method used by his mother Barbara, who said she wasn't going to watch the TV news during the war because watching body bags would spoil her "beautiful mind". No, he has a rugged inner strength - unless confronted by surprise - that enables him to dismiss and destroy personal perception.
His mental pulse needs to be taken, not just his physical one. I think that what prevents his doctors from doing so is their fear of what they'd find. Without such an examination, we are left with no medical terms to describe his mental functioning, his private global war on terror which extends to attacks on his own capacity to perceive reality. I have not examined the President, so it is not proper for me to offer a diagnosis. However, my observations lead me to believe that he is psychotic.